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07 January 2015

A happy New Year to you from everyone at ACE Cultural Tours. We have a real treat to begin 2015. One of our travellers, Elaine Elkington, has been in touch with the office to share her wonderful travelogue from her Lycian Cruise last October – her second time joining Andrew Wilson on this tour. Elaine's vivid account of her voyage is the perfect way to start the year; so sit back and be transported from this grey January day to the sparkling Lycian coast.

A Lycian Coast Travelogue

A happy New Year to you from everyone at ACE Cultural Tours. We have a real treat to begin 2015. One of our travellers, Elaine Elkington, has been in touch with the office to share her wonderful travelogue from her Lycian Cruise last October – her second time joining Andrew Wilson on this tour. Elaine's vivid account of her voyage is the perfect way to start the year; so sit back and be transported from this grey January day to the sparkling Lycian coast.

You can read the full story over on Elaine’s website here. Below are just a few of the highlights and some of Elaine’s fantastic pictures.

THE LYCIAN SHORE, TAKE 2

It was great to meet up with Andrew again. He is very good company as well as cramming our minds with knowledge about what went on where through the ages along the Lycian coast. Our minibus was waiting and I sat next to the driver as we plunged into the dusky warmth of the southern night, with the welcoming, shirring sound of crickets in the trees, fringing the road.   As we approached the lights of Göcek marina, a sinuous brown cat slunk into the shadows.

We are here, walking up the illuminated wooden jetty, the sound of waves slapping and gurgling against the sides of the creaking boats. Our gulet is waiting. I can smell the sea air and am flooded with feelings of freedom and adventure.

 

GEMILER ISLAND

The sea air is energising as we leave port and make for Gemiler island with its ruined churches, vast, empty cistern and vaulted processional way.  As we berth, the ice cream man is waiting and soon his little boat is alongside.

We travel to shore in the Zodiac in fours, while Andrew chats to the owner of the small café at the water’s edge.  They know one another well.  It’s a rough, boulder strewn path to the top of the island but we all finally make it. Late afternoon is a perfect time to visit. Afternoons here shed a golden bowl of light, which holds both warmth and harmony. This is a spiritual place, the stones steeped in past ages.  It’s also a place of great natural beauty by the sea with no sign of the spilt blood it has seen over the centuries.

 

KAS

Kas – when I get home I will long to be here again. The amphitheatre is set in a very pretty location with a view of the sea. There are tourists but it is not overrun. The houses are pretty with wooden, flowery balconies and the harbour is full of boats, coming and going, decorated by a lacy edge of many cafés and boutiques, selling clothes and sandals, carpets, art and jewellery. And the living is easy. I could happily spend a week or two here. People are friendly and welcoming. Everywhere we go there are dogs and cats and pomegranate trees.  We sit in a café and drink fresh orange juice and golden beer served by a very entertaining waiter. His English sparkles.

One of the most elegant tombs is at the top of the main pedestrian shopping street. It is one of my favourites. There is a Lycian inscription, yet to be deciphered, so nobody knows who the tomb was for. However, the locals call it the King’s Sarcophagus. It feels very good to be back here.

 

MYRA

The boat ploughs onwards, spray soaking us from time to time on either side, until we reach the calm estuary that runs into the sea at Myra. An old man brings out his small boat to the gulet, so he can take us all in one fell swoop  to the shore. A minibus is waiting to ferry us to the spectacular tombs. This is a fantastic site, made even more fascinating as the city was buried by a tsunami and you can easily see the layers where the archaeologists have dug down and where the tsunami reached.

 

TEIMUSSA

It’s sweltering now and I can’t wait to get back to the boat for a swim. John sees pipefish and an octopus. I must learn to use a snorkel but the sea is so clear I can see right down to the bottom. I only swim around the boat but I love being in the water. We have lots of opportunities for swimming from the gulet.

The weather continues uncertain re stormy seas but all the same it’s warm and sunny even with the wind. We are meant to be at Kalkan tonight but pull back into Kas again. The crew plan to take the boat on to Kalkan tomorrow, while we visit Letoön and Xanthos by minibus. We’ll catch up with them by road.

LETOÖN AND XANTHOS

Letoön lies not far off the Kas to Fethiye road. Leto was a nymph beloved by Zeus who fathered her twins. She was chased away in a jealous rage by Hera, Zeus’s wife and found herself here, needing to quench her thirst but was chased away again by angry shepherds. She took her revenge by changing them into frogs. There are pools amongst the ruins today, which are home to said frogs, small terrapins and water snakes, all of which John and I saw.  It seemed so peaceful today, shimmering in the heat. One of Andrew’s favourite tombs lies partly hidden behind the large amphitheatre. It’s worth a visit.

 

Then it’s onward and upward to Xanthos – a very special site. It has a violent past, with both wars and earthquakes, but today  it is peaceful and silent, baking in the heat.   It is only ten kilometres from Letöon and is now on the World Heritage Sites listing. The natural site is beautiful – high up, overlooking a river with mountains in the distance. The waves in the stone of the amphitheatre show signs of seismic activity in the past.

Xanthos finally lost importance and the site was forgotten, only to be rediscovered by Charles Fellows from London in 1838.  Some of his finds are in the British Museum, which led our group into thinking we might stage a reunion there in a year’s time. Andrew could show us what Fellows found on his various expeditions to Lycia. There is still a lot to see here though and the site has a powerful atmosphere.

Continue reading the full story on Elaine's website here. If you are interested in joining Andrew on one of our future Lycian cruises please contact the ACE office. Many thanks to Elaine for sharing her experiences with us!

 

 
 
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